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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Smelly Fresh Water Tank
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Thread: Smelly Fresh Water Tank Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
08-28-2011 11:58 PM
Sublime
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetdrvr393 View Post
Ok so here is what I did:
I opened the hatch in the tank and sucked out all of the nasty waster with a small aquarium pump. Then I added bleach, I really didn't measure, I just poured what I thought was about 2 cups out of a one gallon jug, then I filled the tank about 3/4 full with water. Then I ran the bleach water through both faucets until I could no longer smell the funk but smelled bleach. Then I sucked out the remaining bleach water with the aquarium pump (faster). I then refilled the tank full with fresh water and turned on both faucets and ran them until I got clean water. There is still a faint smell of bleach but for the most part the water is clean and funk free. We will not ever drink this water and will probably never shower with it. We just want it to wash hands/dishes etc. so I'm confident this will be fine. I guess the real test will be to see how it is when we go back in a few days or so and make sure that the smell isn't back.

It just might return in those few days. The funk needs to be exposed to the bleach for a minimal length of time.
You might be fine. And eventually the funk will return unless you keep the water chlorinated or are able to completely and totally dry out the system.
08-28-2011 11:00 PM
jetdrvr393 Ok so here is what I did:
I opened the hatch in the tank and sucked out all of the nasty waster with a small aquarium pump. Then I added bleach, I really didn't measure, I just poured what I thought was about 2 cups out of a one gallon jug, then I filled the tank about 3/4 full with water. Then I ran the bleach water through both faucets until I could no longer smell the funk but smelled bleach. Then I sucked out the remaining bleach water with the aquarium pump (faster). I then refilled the tank full with fresh water and turned on both faucets and ran them until I got clean water. There is still a faint smell of bleach but for the most part the water is clean and funk free. We will not ever drink this water and will probably never shower with it. We just want it to wash hands/dishes etc. so I'm confident this will be fine. I guess the real test will be to see how it is when we go back in a few days or so and make sure that the smell isn't back.
08-28-2011 08:19 PM
Sublime
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
These 'regs' are for the commissioning of NEW or unfouled tankage or for tankage that has relatively SMALL amounts of biiological contaminants. These are recommendations 'borrowed' from sanitary plumbing standards', etc. To use such 'specifications / recommendations' without physically inspecting the tank internals to assay the AMOUNT of biofouling is foolhardy possibly dangerous. If upon internal.
How to get an approximate assay on the amount of biofouling ... open the tank access, with a bare hand FEEL the tank walls and if the tank walls felt to be 'SLIMEY' (indicating a massive bacteria colony growing on the walls) then only two methods are hygienically acceptable for sanitization: 1. Physically scrub the tank internals followed by such 'sanitization' recipies. 2. If the tank cannot be opened then MULTIPLE sequential sanitizations will be required.

The crud 't'ain't no big deal.
If crud needs to be cleaned out of it, some dish soap (4 teaspoons for every 10 gallons of water or so) with agitation will clean the tank. Then flush with clear water. After that, you can proceed with the above process and you should have fresh water.
If this doesn't work and you have to physically scrub the tank then all of the plumbing needs to be replaced (unless you have very tiny hands and can scrub the insides of every line). The majority of your funk will be in the lines anyway which is why having the system completely full-lines included-is so important.

This is sanitizing the system, not sterilizing.

If none of these methods do not work, and you have water making you sick, it's not a bacteria your system is contaminated with and you'll need to replace every bit of freshwater system plumbing in order to get rid of it.
08-28-2011 07:19 PM
RichH
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sublime View Post
It may be used in a new system a used one that has not been used for a period of time, or one that may have been contaminated.
These 'regs' are for the commissioning of NEW or unfouled tankage or for tankage that has relatively SMALL amounts of biiological contaminants. These are recommendations 'borrowed' from sanitary plumbing standards', etc. To use such 'specifications / recommendations' without physically inspecting the tank internals to assay the AMOUNT of biofouling is foolhardy possibly dangerous. If upon internal.
How to get an approximate assay on the amount of biofouling ... open the tank access, with a bare hand FEEL the tank walls and if the tank walls felt to be 'SLIMEY' (indicating a massive bacteria colony growing on the walls) then only two methods are hygienically acceptable for sanitization: 1. Physically scrub the tank internals followed by such 'sanitization' recipies. 2. If the tank cannot be opened then MULTIPLE sequential sanitizations will be required.
08-28-2011 07:19 PM
pdqaltair
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I confess to having no way to know that all the water is gone, although, not every drop really needs to be and it has worked flawlessly for me. I am not familiar with instant water heaters on boats, but have heard of them. I thought they are significant energy hogs and not common. My hot water tank has both a drain at the bottom and a bypass to keep more water from entering during decommissioning. That is important for reasons noted by pdqaltair.
a. The compressed air method is EXCELLENT. I only wanted to point to occasional limitations.

b. The instant heaters (tankless hot water heaters) I'm talking about are propane and are very practical and quite common. Some tank home units and instal them without proper venting; not good. With proper venting and installation they can provide showers for boats that would otherwise (outboards) have limited hot water possibilities.

Tk-Jr2-IN Takagi Tankless Water Heater. TKJr2 Takagi Tankless Water Heaters. Takagi Hot Water Heater. TKJR. On Demand Gas Hot Water Heater

http://www.tanklesswaterheatersdirec...tkjr2specs.pdf
08-28-2011 05:50 PM
Minnewaska I confess to having no way to know that all the water is gone, although, not every drop really needs to be and it has worked flawlessly for me. I am not familiar with instant water heaters on boats, but have heard of them. I thought they are significant energy hogs and not common. My hot water tank has both a drain at the bottom and a bypass to keep more water from entering during decommissioning. That is important for reasons noted by pdqaltair.
08-28-2011 05:35 PM
pdqaltair
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
We just hook up an air compressor set to 50psi and open all the faucets. All lines are empty in minutes. Easy. You can buy a portable compressor for well under $100, which is about the cost of a few years AF/vodka and now you have a compressor for other duty.
While this generally works, and I'm glad i6 works for you, it doesn't always work. In complex systems--instant water heaters are a prime offender--it is still possible for enough water to remain to flow back to a low spot and freeze. I have used the air compressor method on both industrial systems and boats, and it is 90% effective. in the remaining 10% of systems something in a low spot will break.

I prefer to circulate in glycol and then blow it out. I use next-to-no glycol, the risk of freezing is zero, and it's very easy to re-commission. Generally all I do is add water and let it run through each tap for ~30 seconds. Very little contamination.

Sure, the AC compressor method is cheap, but a busted heater plus labor isn't.
08-28-2011 04:02 PM
Sublime Here are instructions for recommissioning the freshwater system:

The following recommendations conform to section 10.8 in the A-1 192 code covering electrical, plumbing, and heating of recreational vehicles. The solution is approved and recommended by competent health officials. It may be used in a new system a used one that has not been used for a period of time, or one that may have been contaminated.

Before beginning, turn off hot water heater at the breaker; do not turn it on again until the entire recommissioning is complete. Icemakers should be left running to allow cleaning out of the water feed line; however the first two buckets of ice—the bucket generated during recommissioning and the first bucketful afterward--should be discarded…bleach does absolutely nothing to improve the flavor of good Scotch!

1. Prepare a chlorine solution using one gallon of water and 1/4 cup (2 oz or 25 ml) Clorox or Purex household bleach (5% sodium Hypochlorite solution ). With tank empty, pour chlorine solution into tank. Use one gallon of solution for each 5 gallons of tank capacity. (Those are the “official” directions. They work out to 1 quart or litre of bleach/50 gallons of water , which is MUCH easier to calculate!)

2. Complete filling of tank with fresh water. Open each faucet and drain until air has been released and the entire system is filled. Do not turn off the pump; it must remain on to keep the system pressurized and the solution in the lines

3. Allow to stand for at least three hours, but no longer than 24 hours.

4 Drain through every faucet on the boat (and if you haven't done this in a while, it's a good idea to remove any diffusion screens from the faucets, because what's likely to come out will clog them). Fill the tank again with fresh water only, drain again through every faucet on the boat.

5. To remove excess chlorine taste or odor which might remain, prepare a solution of one quart white vinegar to five gallons water and allow this solution to agitate in tank for several days by vessel motion.

6. Drain tank again through every faucet, and flush the lines again by filing the tank 1/4-1/2 full and again flushing with potable water.
08-28-2011 02:43 PM
Minnewaska A quarter cup of bleach per gallon of water is plenty to sanitize.

I would highly caution against drinking any water with high levels of chlorine. It's quite bad for you. However, a simply drip carbon filter (brita, pur) will take it out.
08-28-2011 02:14 PM
bandaidmd disclaimer, I have never had a boat with a water tank but i do have a RV with one. On RV's it is recommended to "sanitize" your fresh water tanks at least yearly or more often if your not using them regularly. I'm sure if you google sanitize boat or rv water tanks you'll get some hits and ideas on your problem.
I dump 1/2 gallon of bleach and a few gallons of water in and let it slosh arround then run it thru all the taps flush and repeat.
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